GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Two million dollars in state grants are being dispersed throughout Michigan to help businesses develop new markets for used tires.

In Michigan, 10 million scrap tires are generated every year, according to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. 

EGLE said scrap tires are a fire hazard and pose a risk to human health. The grants will help pay for projects in the new scrap tire industry that could improve roads and more. 

“We have different grants every year. We have projects all over the state that are implementing these measures,” said Kirsten Clemens, scrap tire coordinator for EGLE.

Clemens said tires are one of the most highly-engineered materials available. 

“We are actually working with several universities and processors, road commissions, to turn those materials into asphalt or road treatment surfaces so the communities can use them to fix the roads.”

Some projects using scrap tires have been dubbed “road lasagna.” 

“The road lasagna project is actually that name was done by the crew,” said Clemens. “That project was in a wetland area where the roadway tends to sink … that was taken out and replaced with layers of blast furnace material, geotextile fabric and tire derived aggregate chips.”

“Road lasagna” is layers of stone, geotextile fabric, scrap tire chips and semi truck sidewalls. (Courtesy EGLE)

EGLE said tire material is better for smaller road projects. 

Kent County has used grants from EGLE to improve Kent County roadways, from Cascade Road to Burton to 28th Street. 

“We actually paved with scrap tires in one direction and two lanes and we paved with conventional asphalt in the other direction,” said Clemens. 

EGLE says scrap tire piles can cause fires, or even be a breeding ground for rodents and mosquitoes because they can hold water. 

“Piles of scrap tires, if they were to catch on fire, they burn very hot, they are very smoky. So we try to help the communities and the tire businesses keep those piles in check,” said Clemens. 

Roads are not the only things scrap tires can be used for.

“The City of Grand Rapids is slowly changing all of their tree surrounds. Instead of the metal grates around the trees, they are going to change them to a material called porous pavement,” said Clemens. 

Porous Pave is a company in Grant, Michigan using tire scraps.

“Our product was kind of developed in 2007. Since then, we have been doing applications around trees, walkways, patios, golf course bunkers and cart paths,” said Connor Ouwinga, the national sales manager Porous Pave Inc.

The company said it has recycled about 20 million pounds of tires so far. 

“All out of landfills, or prevent them from going into landfills,” said Ouwinga. 

Porous Pave is expanding in Grand Rapids. 

“They were looking for a product that is flexible. It allows water to flow into the trees and its still high traction and so our product can flex with the ground movement with freeze thaw and even as the tree grows it can flex with that as well,” said Ouwinga. 

Scrap tires are paving the road for improvements around Michigan. 

“We’ve poured over 1,600 for the city of Grand Rapids,” said Ouwinga. 

The road project in Cascade Township used more than 3,200 scrap tires.

EGLE said it will also be working with the city of Muskegon on a project using scrap tires and concrete. It is also accepting applications for scrap tire projects.